In college, I was an idiot and I dated some men who were pretty terrible because I had low self-esteem. I finally broke up with the final one during the first month of STEP. Then I got my crap together and in an effort to prevent from happening again, I developed a list of policies. Policies to never compromise on, and principles that got me to start acting like a grown woman and to get into a healthy relationship. I’ve also been the person people run too to confide in and I’ve seen these problems repeated over and over again.
Note that this is from the perspective of a straight woman. I didn’t use non-gendered terms because some of this is specific to the female experience. I would encourage my friends and readers who are not straight women to add their two cents or write their own post (which I will happily put on my blog). There is always intersectionality and I can’t claim to understand anyone’s perspective other than my own.
1) No Douchebags. No exceptions.
a. If he is rude to you, end it.
b. If he is rude to people lower in the social hierarchy, end it.
c. If he treats you like a trophy, end it.
2) The only criteria that matters is whether or not he is a good person.
a. Being tall doesn’t mean he will treat you well.
b. Being well-educated doesn’t men he will treat you well.
c. Being rich doesn’t mean he will treat you well.
d. Listening to the same bands as you doesn’t mean he will treat you well.
3) Sexism counts as not treating you well
a. It is not a valid perspective or intellectual argument. If he tells you that you can’t work, that you aren’t as smart as him, that his work is more important or criticizes what you look like, end it.
b. If he doesn’t support your growth and humanity, including supporting your dreams and aspirations, end it.
4) If you feel insecure, it isn’t your fault.
a. Figure out what is going on in your relationship to make you feel that way. Strong women don’t wither away because of choice. If he is the cause, end it.
5) If he treats you well but no one else well, see number one.
6) If he can’t have reasonable discussions with you, end it.
a. This includes relationship conversations, you have the right to have all of the information you need to plan your life.
b. This also includes intellectual debates, if he can’t have them he is either child or sexist, both of which are dumpable offenses.
7) If he can’t act like an adult, end it
a. It doesn’t matter how accomplished he is. Grown men don’t throw tantrums, act self-centered, fail to take care of their responsibilities, or have trouble committing.
b. No waiting around. It is true that I say this because he will respect you less, but more importantly it will drain you and weaken you as well as wasting your time.
8) Don’t make promises you can’t keep and don’t let him make promises he can’t keep.
9) Grown men don’t try to test limits, they respect boundaries.
a. Children do that. See 7.
b. Men respect boundaries if they respect you, and if they don’t respect you, end it.
10) Any man who can’t deal with you at your worst doesn’t deserve your best.
a. If he doesn’t take care of you when you are not well, end it.
b. If he can’t deal with you having emotions , end it.
c. If he can’t handle the obstacles in your life end it.
Your significant other and you should be a united front in a crazy world, their job is to be your support, to help you reach your fullest humanity and to work with you to accomplish your dreams. If they aren’t doing that, they aren’t in love with you. They might love the idea of you, they might be really attracted to you, but either they are incapable of love or they don’t love you. You deserve love.